Category Archives: Christian soldier

After murder and hurricane destruction, she found hope in a hug

Cassenda Nelson often spent the day crying in her truck because she didn’t want to be reminded of the brutal murder of her mom and aunt in her home.

In August 2017, Cassa’s mother, Frances Nelson, and her aunt, Mamie Childs, were murdered in an alleged domestic violence dispute.

“My mom and my aunt were murdered in front of my children at her home,” Cassa reports. “My mom was someone I could go and talk to about anything. It felt like something was ripped out of me. How do you bounce back from being in that place of so much despair?”

Life became unbearable.

“I lost all hope. I didn’t want to get up in the morning. I didn’t want to see sunlight,” Cassa recounts on a Billy Graham video. “My plan was to take a whole bunch of pills to commit suicide.”

Then barely over a year later on Oct. 9, 2018, Hurricane Michael swept through her town with blockbuster Category 5 ferocity and tore up houses, knocked over trees and left the town a shambles.

Cassa’s home was also damaged.

“I’m standing here at the door watching this storm, and I’m saying, ‘Oh my God. When am I going to get a break?’” Cassa remembers. “I lost the most important people that would have been right here with me.” Read the rest: Hope in a hug for Cassenda Nelson

Deny’s last meal, a military dog ends his retirement


Ten days ago*, Deny — the retired bomb-locating German shepherd from US military service in Kuwait — was put to rest after a meal of Texas brisket and rib sausage. (*longer now. date was from original publication)

“This was not supposed to be a cry fest,” says the Texas lawyer who adopted the unadoptable, aggressive dog in a video that was supposed to be private but went viral.

deny last meal“It was supposed to be a private moment of closure for me and my dog, but I recorded it for Mission K9,” the Texas service that places retired service dogs in loving homes, Thomas Locke told God Reports. “They put it on Tiktok and it just blew up.

“I’m ready to give my Man Card, just turn it in.”

Ever since Thomas, 59, who himself served in the military, adopted Deny on Christmas of 2018, a special bond was formed.

thomas locke and deny“These dogs have unconditional love,” Thomas says. “They don’t care if you’re white black, Christian, not a Christian, Muslim, they don’t care. All they want is love. They don’t judge. How beautiful is that?”

Deny was going to be a challenge. After working 12 hours a day, seven days a week sniffing out explosives for eight years of service in Kuwait, the Dutch-born and -trained dog had developed PTSD and was categorized by the overseas veteran as “unadoptable.”

Other parents looking to bring home dogs had passed over Deny at the 21-acre ranch at Magnolia, Texas, where Mission K9 saves work and service dogs from euthanasia.

Thomas and Elizabeth LockeBut when Thomas saw the 90-pound animal, his heart was moved and he took the dog to his home to Pearland, south of Houston.

“Deny had a hip problem. He was a medical nightmare,” Thomas says. “So people kept passing on him. But when I passed him, his profile was majestic. He was very regal looking. The sun was starting to go down. And when I saw him I realized he was the dog I wanted to get.”

The worries were over his hostility, but Deny’s first problem arose when he tried to pee on the Christmas tree to mark his territory.

After that, the aggressiveness melted away into those sad brown eyes and huggable muzzle. Deny followed Thomas everywhere he went. He watched him incessantly. Thomas even slept with the dog many nights on the floor. Deny understood only Dutch commands from his trainers in Holland, so Thomas had to learn Dutch.

“My wife was very understanding,” he says. “She knew a special relationship had formed. When you adopt a dog — especially a working dog — they never take their eyes off of you. Whenever I left the house, he was right there when I came home looking at the door where I left. We had entire conversations without saying a word.”

Thomas’s dad was a Vietnam vet and his mom was an alcoholic and drug addict, so he was sent off to Church of Christ-run foster homes where he had to go to church and watch preachers on the television.

“It was very comforting for me to have that stability and that moral compass. I knew there was something bigger than me out there,” Thomas says. “My testimony is a country music song.”

Ironically, Thomas worked with explosives in the military from 1978 to 1981 but saw no combat. When he got out, he found “there wasn’t much need for my skills” in the American job market and took up construction. He married Elizabeth Garcia and had a son, who today is a police officer in Seabrook, Texas.

After he got injured on the job site, he became an RN and then a lawyer, initially a prosecutor and then a defense attorney in private practice.

Whenever he was home, Deny was always nuzzling at his ankle, until recently when they installed a Jacuzzi. When Thomas realized his dog was not right behind him he looked over. Deny, whose spine was fractured from military service, was breaking down with old age.

“He was literally dragging his 90 pound body trying to follow me, never crying,” Thomas says. “I looked around and saw and just dropped to the ground. I can’t tell you how much I just loved this dog. There was a bond. I just can’t explain it.”

Deny’s back legs didn’t work, nor did his bladder. Thomas realized that the workload was bearing down on poor Deny and that it would be best to release him into Heaven. He called the vet and prepared Deny’s last meal, which he filmed originally only with the intent to encourage people to adopt dogs from Mission K9. The video went viral and a nation’s tears almost caused regional flooding. Read the rest: Deny, the military dog, put to rest after retirement in Christian home.

Refreshingly humble foot soldier of the Lord rapper YB

spotify+coverBrandon “YB” Farris is a soldier.

While other Christian rappers seek to be titans of hip hop, YB approaches music from a different perspective. He doesn’t aspire to be the superstar or super-celeb in the spotlight. He’s happy being the unpretentious, humble, and effective foot soldier for God’s kingdom.

The braggadocio common in Christian rap MAY be excused as a sine qua non of the hip hop genre. Or it may be simply the sin of pride.

Whether we condemn CHH or overlook its faults is moot for the moment. What we can say is that YB is a breath of fresh air.

YB Christian rapper“I believe God still has soldiers in this generation and in the generations to come,” YB says on Alysia Paige’s blog. “As long as I’m breathing I’m in full pursuit to gather soldiers to build God’s army.”

YB grew up one of eight children of a single mother in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. From the age of eight, music was his escape from the harsh realities of poverty. Growing up without a father caused him as a 13-year-old to have many unanswered questions, according to Top40 Charts.

“It was being surrounded by a tough environment, and you were being forced to make something from the environment you were coming up in,” YB told the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. “A lot of my story was in the valley.”

He idolized Ludacris and Eminem and got serious about music in high school. He honed his craft breaking curfew, staying up late writing and playing the music too loud. Ever sympathetic, his mother pardoned his peccadillos.

From a young age, YB knew the presence of God, but he kept God at a distance, leery of the level of commitment required. He did music for himself, not ready to enlist in God’s army. But he found self-glorification and self-promotion hollow at the end of the day.

“When I did music for me, I truly had nothing to offer people,” he observes. “In reality, people walk through life looking and hoping for ‘something’ but sometimes it’s hard to articulate your needs in darkness.”

All that changed when he went to Southern Arkansas University Tech in East Camden. He ran across so many on-fire, sold-out Christians it turned his worldview upside down. Instead of seeing the commitment as daunting, he was drawn to God.

At a college “Passion Conference,” he came to terms with God and decided to serve Jesus unreservedly, like a soldier.

He dropped his freshman album in 2014, aptly named “Salvation.” Four years later… Read the rest: Humble Christian rapper YB a soldier of Jesus.